FO: willis shirt

Last week I had the chance to do a bit of sewing, and made my very first collared shirt! It was a project I’ve been planning for a little while, chosen pretty deliberately as a skill-building project. The pattern is the Willis Shirt from Seamwork, and I chose it because aside from the collar, the other techniques (the button placket and bias facings) were ones I’ve successfully executed and feel relatively comfortable with. All in all, I’m really proud of how it came together, even if there are some things I would do differently next time, and I learned a lot making it.

Firstly, if I make this shirt again I’ll make a smaller size. It’s not so huge on me that it looks too too big, but it’s definitely too big. I wouldn’t choose this size in a store. The idea for this shirt was for it to be somewhat of a wearable muslin – I got the fabric in a remnant sale at a local fabric store – so I decided to cut a straight size 8 with no modifications and see how it turned out. My measurements are nearly identical to the body measurements listed for the size 8, and looking at the finished garment measurements I saw that there would be 5 5/8″ (14 cm) of positive ease at the bust and I felt like that might give the “relaxed fit” the pattern says it has. But I should have checked the waist and sweep measurements, because I didn’t realize how A-line it would be. There’s 14 1/2″ (36.5 cm) positive ease at the waist, which is quite a lot, especially for someone who likes to wear collared shirts tucked into a skirt.

I posted photos of the shirt on Instagram and a lot of people said very complimentary things (which I’m grateful for!), including about the fit, but I kind of feel like the first rule of the internet is that photographs are often excellent liars. The hand on hip in the above photo is doing a lot of work. The photos below do a much better job of showing exactly how roomy this thing is.

As you can see, the collar’s also kind of huge. Part of that probably comes down to my own novice skills – it’s the first time I’ve constructed a collar and it sits a little strangely. But even if I pull the two top corners together so they meet (which I think they’re supposed to, looking at the sample photos), the collar’s still huge on me. I’ve got kind of a skinny neck, but I’ve never had a collared shirt do that before, so I don’t think it’s just me. I guess Seamwork and I have different ideas about what a “relaxed” fit is.

All that being said, it is wearable, and I do like it. The interfacing may bit a little heavy for this application, the collar might not quite sit right, but it’s also a project that really helped show me how far my technical sewing skills have come since I started sewing again last year, and that felt amazing. I’m very proud of all of my finishing on this shirt. I took my time with each step and it shows. French seams at the sides and shoulders, a neatly executed hem, straight topstitching on the button placket, relatively sharp corners on the collar… the list of the things I’m proud of is actually pretty extensive, and definitely outnumbers the flaws. There’s always room for improvement, but I can see how far I’ve come, and that feels great.

I finished it off with 13 mm shell buttons, rather that typical shirt buttons. Plastic shirt buttons proved incredibly difficult to find in Trondheim’s city center, so these made for a nice alternative. The colors go really well with the floral print, and I think I’m glad not to have plastic buttons anyway.

I’m not sure I’ll make a Willis again, but at the very least I’ll carry forward the things I learned for when I next construct a collar, and that’s worth a great deal to me. If you’ve made a Willis I’d be very curious to hear about your own experience!

driving the helgeland coast

Since I’m still waiting on a Covid vaccine (at 33, I’m essentially at the very back of the queue in Trondheim), this year’s summer vacation has been another domestic holiday by necessity. We kept it relatively short – I’m saving more of my holiday time for December, when I should be fully vaccinated and we can hopefully plan an extended US trip to coincide with Christmas so I can see friends and family I haven’t seen since 2019. (I’ll also admit that after nearly a year and a half of travel restrictions, I’m not so used to being far from home for long!) Nonetheless, we recently went on a road trip up the coast, and I thought I’d share a little bit of it!

We drove north last summer as well, but last year we mostly stuck to the E6, the inland main highway between Trondheim and northern Norway. This year we wanted to cover some new ground, so we decided to try the coastal route. This means slower driving and lots of ferries, so we set a leisurely pace and covered 3-4 hours of driving per day with overnight stops in different coastal towns. This stretch of coast between Steinkjer and Bodø is known as Helgeland, and the coastal highway (fylkesvei 17) is called Kystriksveien, literally “the coastal road.” With 650 km of road and six ferries along the way, it’s a scenic route, and it’s also dotted with islands of all sizes along the way.

Looking toward (from left to right) Litlhornet shrouded in clouds, Kula, and Heilhornet from Fv802
Golden hour just north of Brønnøysund

Rather than starting off with Steinkjer, we opted to take the ferry from Trondheim to Fosen first, adding an additional ferry to the route. We spent the first night in Namsos, and then picked up Fv17 the next day on the way to Brønnøysund. We had excellent weather for the first few days of the trip, and then it took a turn. By the time we crossed the Arctic Circle, grey clouds had taken up near-permanent residence in the sky. The midnight sun is distinctly less impressive when you can’t ever see it. But I think it’s par for the course for some stretch of the northern summer – I remember going crazy when we lived in Tromsø, because when the weather is grey/rainy and the sun never sets, the sky just…never changes. At least we had some fine weather for the first few days.

There are all sorts of interesting places to stop along the Coastal Road, and while we didn’t venture out to any of the islands this time, they definitely seem worth visiting in the future. Mostly, we enjoyed the scenic drives and the many ferries. I love the coast.

Waiting for the ferry at Kilboghamn.
The Seven Sisters range on the horizon on the ferry from Forvik to Tjøtta.

I never take as many photos as I’d like, but on some level I suppose that’s a good thing! Travel really helps me feel present in the moment. But I did grab snaps on my phone here and there, and I hope you enjoy the little glimpse of the Coastal Road in Helgeland.

Silavatnet, or Sila Lake, in Lurøy municipality
Svartisen glacier seen from the north, across Holandsfjord

We ended the Coastal Road with a few nights in Bodø before coming home the more direct way on the E6. I’d been to Bodø before, but only for an overnight stop, so it was nice to have a little bit more time in the city. We stopped in at the city museum, part of Nordlandsmuseet, and I really enjoyed the temporary exhibition they’re currently running, called Helt Konge – it’s a photo exhibition of imagery of the Norwegian royal family in people home’s and public spaces. I’m not very fussed about royals myself, but the exhibition concept is fascinating to me and it’s always interesting to get a glimpse of other people’s lives through their everyday spaces. I also enjoyed learning a bit more about Bodø’s history from the permanent collection. The museum isn’t too big so it was a nice way to spend an hour or two.

The city museum in Bodø

If you’re curious about Helgeland and want to learn a bit more, I’ll point you to this post from the travel blog Heart my Backpack, which is full of tips and links to more info. I feel so privileged to live somewhere where this kind of scenery is so close by, but I will admit I miss traveling further afield and I’m really looking forward to doing more of that in the future, post-vaccine. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the rest of my summer holiday at home: reading, cooking, gardening. There might even be a bit of sewing before I head back to work!

new work for amirisu

The previews for issue 22 (spring/summer) of Amirisu magazine went live last week, and I actually have some new work to share! For those unfamiliar with the magazine, Amirisu originally started off as a digital-only knitting magazine, publishing bilingually in English and Japanese (they are a Japanese company). Nowadays they’re a print magazine, publishing each issue in an English/international version and a Japanese version. They also have a brick-and-mortar yarn store in Japan called WALNUT that I’d love to visit someday.

I’ve been a fan for a long time so it’s been a real pleasure to get to work with them on some designs for the magazine. I have one pattern in issue 22, and I also have a pattern from issue 21, the fall/winter issue, that I haven’t shared here so I thought I’d share that as well. But first, my pattern for the new issue!

This hat and cowl set is called Blomsterkrans (Ravelry link), a Scandinavian word meaning flower wreath/crown or garland. I’m very pleased with how both pieces turned out. We used Knitting for Olive Merino, which is a light fingering non-superwash merino wool, and the finished fabric is lovely. The center of the flowers is worked in duplicate stitch to add a pop of color, so there are no three-color rounds in these pieces.

Amirisu’s photography is beautiful, as always. Colorwork can always feel a little funny in a spring/summer issue, but these are lightweight pieces that are certainly suitable for the Scandinavian summer, if not the typical Japanese one.

The other pattern I wanted to share was my piece for issue 21: a pair of colorwork mitts called Bramble (Ravelry link).

These were quite fun to design, because they lean more towards Fair Isle knitting than Scandinavian. I also love how they styled the model for the magazine, and I never would have thought to pair these mitts with a coat in that color. These use six colors in total, so the color choice adds a lot of room for creativity and the finished mitts can look incredibly different depending on which colors you choose. It’s also possible to simplify and use only five of fewer colors. I’ve really enjoyed seeing finished projects of this one.

It’s also nice to revisit them, because seeing them in the photo reminds me that I was working on this sample on my last international trip pre-Covid, when I was in Rome in February of 2020. It takes me straight back to the memory of sitting on the hotel bed, knitting on these with the window open, hearing the sounds of the city outside and enjoying the soft sunlight filtering through the curtains. I’d forgotten how travel knitting can be transportive that way; it makes me excited to travel again. Eventually.

Blomsterkrans shoot
Photos: Masahiro Shimazaki
Hair/makeup: Yoko Yoshikawa
Model: Kana

Bramble shoot
Photos: Masahiro Shimazaki
Hair/makeup: Yoko Yoshikawa
Model: Masako

thaw

March and April have definitely brought signs of spring this year. I think this March was milder and less snowier than last year’s, something I’m feeling grateful for. We’re still in that in-between stage, where it sometimes snows, but it’s mild enough now that it never lasts for too long when it does. The daylight hours grow longer every day, and I find myself full of optimism when the sun comes out.

While I love winter, the springtime thaw always brings a specific kind of joy. Lately, my walks have been getting longer. I’m determined to do some more hiking this summer than last, and to explore some of the spots in my local area I have yet to hit up (there are plenty!). Even when the weather isn’t sunny, being outside at this time of year often makes me want to do cartwheels. The fresh air is such a boon after a long winter.

Today might be the nicest day of the year so far – April always seems to have a way of sparkling when the sun comes out, and today there’s not a cloud in the sky. It’s the kind of weather that seems to draw everyone outside, as we share a collective sigh of relief. It puts a goofy grin on my face, and I especially love walking by the water in this weather. You can smell the sea salt in the air, one of my favorite smells, and when you breathe in deep you can almost taste it. It makes it feel like summer (and taking dips in the fjord) is just around the corner. I keep bumping into friends when out on walks lately as well, which only adds to my joy. This cultural experience of the good weather drawing everyone outside is something Norway has in common with Seattle, and I know from friends and family back home that Seattle’s also been enjoying a stretch of extremely fine spring weather. I’m grateful.

The other thing I feel as the days grow warmer and longer is that I feel so immensely lucky to be here. To get to live here. My days are not only full of joy – work is often tricky these days (it’s no secret that a PhD is no picnic) and the news of late has often been devastating. But it makes the joy feel all the more important, so I will savor those moments when I am fortunate to have them.

FO revisited: gathered skirt > fiore skirt

Dianna stands in front of a grey-green wall, facing left, and wearing a green knitted top and a skirt in a subtle plaid in shades of grey, blue, and brown.

Back in October I wrote about my plans for some makes in my closet that I don’t really wear, and wanted to go back and rework. Last month I got around to reworking this gathered skirt, originally sewn in 2015 and worn out of the house maybe…once? If that? Honestly, I never wore it. I liked the idea of it – I bought that fabric because I liked it, after all. Every few months I would try it on again when I was getting dressed, thinking maybe this time would be the time it would click and I’d want to wear it. But that was never the case. Here’s a reminder of what the original skirt I sewed looked like:

The main problem was that this is a mid-weight fabric and there was simply way, way too much fabric in the gathers at the waist. I didn’t use a pattern for the original project, and the skirt pieces were literally rectangles, so the gathers were dense. I sewed it with a favorite store-bought skirt in mind, matching the length, but the store-bought skirt doesn’t actually have gathers. It’s a full and heavy skirt, but very sleek and elegant looking. And this gathered skirt? It was not. So it stayed in my closet.

When I sewed my bird-print Fiore skirt last year, I realized that I could probably use the pattern to rework this skirt and turn it into something I’d actually wear. So I dismantled the skirt in the fall, and set aside the pieces until I had time to sit down and sew them up last month. I have to say that I’m really pleased with the end result.

Dianna stands against a grey-green wall, wearing a green knitted top and a skirt in a subtle plaid in shades of grey, blue, and brown.

The new skirt weighs probably half what the original one did – there’s much less fabric in it overall. And it’s gotten quite a lot of wear since I finished it as well! I’m frequently pairing it with my Eowyn blouse by Fabel Knitwear, knit in Osloull from Oslo Mikrospinneri (a blend of Norwegian wool and silk), as shown in these photos.

I did several things differently for this iteration of the Fiore skirt compared to my bird skirt. Firstly, I sewed view A here, with the back zip (my bird skirt is view C, with the button placket down the front). I did the longer length, which the pattern calls the below-knee version, although you can probably see it’s not below the knee on me (I’m 6′ / 182 cm tall). My bird version has three inches added to the bottom of the pattern, and I originally intended to do that for this version as well, but I spaced out while cutting out the pieces and forgot to add the length. So this version hits me mid-knee, which is fortunately also a nice length.

I decided to skip pockets, even though I had pocket pieces I could reuse from the original skirt – I wanted to practice keeping the seams nice and neat on the inside, and felt like the pockets would be too much added fuss. I did french seams for the side seams, and I’m super pleased with those. I’m also quite happy with how the zip went in. I just used a zipper from my stash, so it’s not an invisible zip, but it goes quite nicely with the fabric and doesn’t draw too much attention to itself so I think that’s fine.

A close shot of the back of the skirt, shewing the grey zipper.

Overall I’m so happy I took the time to dismantle the old skirt and sew a new one, and I wore it out twice in the first week alone after finishing it so it was pretty immediately gratifying. It was also good sewing practice for me, having sewn this pattern once before, so I could focus on details. So my FO Revisited series seems to be off to a good start! And I actually already have another project to share for this series nearly ready to go (I just need to give its new sleeves a good wet block first), so you can probably keep an eye out for that soon.

a WIP check-in

Aside from the new patterns I shared recently, it’s been a little while since I’ve actually shared any of my makes with you all. I thought it might be nice to have a little bit of a WIP check-in so I could share the main things I’m working on at the moment.

I’m very keen to finish up old WIPs this year, and I’m also really interested in working from stash for new cast-ons – an ambition that kind of fell apart last year once corona hit and I wanted to support businesses suddenly facing the loss of festival income. But I have managed to finish a couple of old WIPs since the start of the year. I started the Julenatt mittens (Ravelry link) pictured below back in December of 2018, when they were the advent mystery mitten pattern by Skeindeer Knits. It felt wonderful to finish a project started so long ago, and these will be a gift for a dear friend which somehow makes it even sweeter. I used Arctic Yarns Sølje in the Birch Leaves colorway (green), Arctic Yarns Vilje in the Snowman colorway (off-white), and some leftover grey Rauma Finull.

A Fair Isle sock in shades of brown, green, blue, white, orange, purple, and yellow hangs against a white wall.

I also managed to finish my pair of Norah socks by Marie Wallin, begun in March last year at the very beginning of the first lockdown. I’ve yet to get a photo of the pair, but just the one still gives you an idea! I splurged on this kit the summer we moved to Trondheim – this particular pattern is only available in a kit with Marie’s British Breeds yarn. In one sense, that makes these the most expensive socks I’ve ever owned, but on the flipside there’s plenty of yarn leftover for future colorwork projects (and it is really lovely yarn).

The rest of my old WIPs are still very much in progress, but I’m getting there! I have another pair of mittens on the way to being finished, and these will also become a gift.

A pair of mittens in progress lays on a warm wooden table. The mittens are blue, red, and yellow, with a pattern of buildings around the cuff. One mitten is only half-finished.

This pair of Trondheim Mittens by Sofia Kammeborn (Ravelry link) is coming along nicely now that I’ve made it past the second cuff. The cuffs are a beast due to knitting with three colors at once with some pretty long floats, but this photo gives you a glimpse at how I used a bit of a cheat to get through it: if you look at the half-finished mitten, you can see the rounds where I actually knit with all three colors per round on the cuff. Most of the buildings are just the red and mustard for now, but I’ll go back and fill in the windows using duplicate stitch. I did the same for the first mitten and honestly had a much nicer result that way than when I tried to knit the whole thing with three colors at once. I started these mittens in May 2019, back when I teased the news of us moving back to Norway on my Instagram, so this is another old WIP I’ll be very glad to have finished. I cast on from stash when I started these, so they’re a mix of Rauma Finull (the dark blue and mustard), Tukuwool Fingering (the red), and indigo-dyed Lofoten Wool (the light blue).

The yoke of a cardigan in progress sits on a hanger against a grey wall. The cardigan yoke is grass green with light grey colorwork.

My other main WIPs are two newer cast-ons. Just over a month ago I pulled some beautiful Neighborhood Fiber Co Studio Sock out of my stash (the colorways are Anacostia and Charles Centre) and cast on a Valdreskofte, a traditional Norwegian cardigan I’ve wanted to make for a really long time. I’m using a pattern from a book for the numbers, but otherwise I’ve gone very off-piste, working it top-down instead of bottom-up, and making some modifications to the neck shaping and the button bands. Studio Sock is a superwash merino, so I’ll have to machine sew my reinforcements before I cut the steek, but I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. I have some buttons and ribbon (to cover the steek edges) picked out that I’m hoping to use when it’s ready for finishing, but we shall see if they work when I make it to that stage.

A multi-colored eight-pointed star knitted in garter stitch lays on a dark grey carpet.

Lastly, I’ve also had scrap projects on the brain, as a little bit of stash reorganization last month showed me just how much leftover yarn I have kicking around my craft room. Lately I’ve been very drawn to scrap blankets, although I’ve never made one before, but I got an idea stuck in my head and decided to give it a go. I’m using Mina Philipp’s Pinwheel Scrap Blanket as the base for a kind of pinwheel/log cabin mashup. I’ll make blocks of 8-pointed stars and then seam them together at the end. I wrote on Instagram about how I’m approaching creating each block seamlessly, but I forgot to mention there that I’m working a smaller number of stitches for each central pinwheel block than Mina’s pattern calls for (I’m starting with 14). I’ve never done anything quite like this, so I’m having fun with it. I have a lot of Rauma Finull leftovers (did you notice how this is the third project of this post that makes use of them?) and think I could actually get a blanket out of just Finull, so I’m going to see how far I get with just my basket of Finull.

I still have several other WIPs just waiting for attention, so I’m hoping to keep the momentum up in the coming months. I’ll have to set everything aside for a pattern sample for a magazine in the very near future, but once that’s sent off in a couple of months I’ll be back to the WIP pile!

winter solstice collab with the crimson stitchery

One of the projects I was working on over the fall was a small collection done in collaboration with Anushka of The Crimson Stitchery. I’ve mentioned Anushka and her YouTube channel on this blog a few times before, including when I shared a few favorite video podcasts earlier in 2020. So deciding to do a design collaboration together was a great deal of fun and an interesting creative challenge as well!

We took the winter solstice as our starting point, and created a shared mood board with imagery representing our own ideas about the winter solstice. Already it was interesting to see the differences – I associate it with moody blue light, short daylight, snow, and frost, while Anushka’s associations were more in the direction of the sparkling festivities of the season. We decided we would both create accessories rooted in our shared inspiration – using different techniques (colorwork for me, cables for Anushka), but both incorporating color and texture play and using the same yarns. I think both our designs evolved along the way, as we sketched and swatched, but I really love where we ended up.

We each designed a hat pattern and a pair of fingerless mitts, and I thought I’d share each of them here in brief. If you’d like to hear about them in a little more detail, I made a video about my designs (which can be found here), as did Anushka (and her video is here).

Dianna wears a burgundy and gold hat with a pattern of colorwork diamonds while standing in front of an old brick wall and set of doors with fancy ironwork.

My hat is the Lebkuchen hat (on Ravelry here). Worked up in fingering weight, I used a metallic chainette yarn for the contrasting color for a pretty fun and glitzy effect. While the gold yarn was incorporated into all four of our pieces, this is the only one where it’s not simply used for a trim. I’ve been wanting to play with metallic colorwork for a long time, and I plan to keep exploring the creative possibilities it opens up!

A pair of colorwork fingerless mitts in shades of burgundy, off-white, and blue laid out on brown paper with evergreen branches arranged around them.

My mitts, meanwhile, are the Pepperkaker mitts (Ravelry link). These are worsted weight and work up quite quickly, which is always very satisfying! If you watch the video I made about my designs, you’ll also see the full mitten version I was working on. I’ll admit I stalled on those once I got to the thumb of the full mitten, but I do still intend to release that version as an option with the pattern!

A knitted hat featuring a diamond cable pattern in tealy blue with off-white trim and a burgundy pom pom lays on a grey floor surrounded by leafy branches and pine cones.

Anushka’s hat is the delightfully squishy Brandy Butter (Ravelry // Payhip). Another quick knit in worsted weight, it’s a mix of cables, stockinette, and ribbing. The diamond cable centered on the front echoes the diamond motif of the colorwork in my Lebkuchen hat – having the designs nod at each other that way was a deliberate choice, and it was fun to work out how we were going to do that as we worked on the collection.

And lastly, Anushka’s Ginger Snaps mitts (Ravelry // Payhip). I love these cabled mitts and I think I’d like to knit a pair for myself, probably with some modifications. These are worked in fingering weight, and I love the classic look of the cables she chose for the back of the hand.

We’re so pleased with the collection overall and I do love how the pieces work together as a set. Collaboration often pushes me to make slightly different creative decisions than I’d make working totally on my own, and that’s really refreshing sometimes.

another year, gone

November and December have come and gone, and it’s stayed pretty quiet in this space. There were a few reasons for that – it’s been a very busy time both at work at the university as well as behind the scenes with Paper Tiger, but I’ve also been coping with the worsening condition of a herniated disc that’s been plaguing me since early spring this year. It’s actually been a much longer chronic issue, but the occasional flare up of pain has never been a super big deal until 2020. Long story short, I wound up having minor surgery for it on December 18th. It was successful and I’m totally fine, just taking it easy at home while I recover. (I wrote a bit more about that here.)

We had a quiet Christmas at home in Trondheim and will have a quiet new year’s eve as well. Waking up to a thin dusting of snow on Christmas morning was a welcome treat (although it’s long gone now), as was video calling our families later in the day.

I did release a couple of new patterns the week before my surgery, and I will share those here as well, but they deserve their own post, so I will save it for another day soon.

Like many others, I feel like I don’t know where this year has gone. Time always seems to move quickly, but somehow in a year almost without travel, where the days bleed into one another more easily than ever before, time seems to have lost all meaning. I don’t feel too much like doing any big reflections this year. I’m just grateful to be moving towards a new year with a little bit more optimism, even if there are many things that aren’t going to change as quickly as we’d like them to.

I hope your final week of 2020 has been restful and restorative. I hope you’ve been able to find some joy in the midst of chaos and sadness. And I hope you’re able to look to 2021 with a little bit more optimism too.

x

FOs revisited

I’ve been thinking for several months about a few pieces in my wardrobe that aren’t working for whatever reason. Many of us seem to enjoy sharing our finished makes online, myself included, but how often do we go back and talk about when things don’t work? Several years on from finishing a project, it can be very clear that it doesn’t fit your wardrobe needs or style the way you thought it would. Even if you love it.

In those cases, there are a few different options. The most passive approach is to simply let it sit in your closet/wardrobe/storage, either totally forgotten or occasionally haunting you when you remember it exists. I’ve had a few of those. More active responses to the realization that a piece doesn’t fit your life include selling it or giving it away to someone whose life or body it fits better, or choosing to re-work it or re-use the materials in a way that will work better for you.

I’ve done this at least once before – back in 2016 I frogged a sweater project that rarely got worn, and wrote a bit about it in the latter half of this post. That yarn later got turned into a basic raglan pullover that I wear all the time, although I don’t think that FO ever featured on the blog (I did post about it on Instagram, though). I think the success of that experience is part of what’s led me to consider other pieces that could use a similar treatment.

So, there are a few pieces of my handmade wardrobe that haven’t been working for a long time, and I’ve been devising plans for them. I’ve even started executing a few of those plans, in fact. I’d like to share the results of each transformation when I finish them, but I figured I’d share a bit about my plans here at this point.

First up, my Svalbard cardigan, knit back in 2014 (you can see the original FO post here). I think this is a lovely design, and I actually did wear this cardigan a lot in the first year or two after I knit it, particularly when we still lived in Seattle. But over time, it became less and less something I reached for, for a variety of reasons. It didn’t work as well in the colder climates we’ve lived in since Seattle (Norway and Montreal). A huge part of why this is true is that it doesn’t pass the Jacket Test (that’s my shorthand for the question: Can you put on a coat or jacket over it without too much faff? If yes, it passes; if no, it fails). I’ve learned that my clothes live and die by the Jacket Test. Over time, I felt like Svalbard was less flattering on me and I rarely reached for it, but I love the yarn I knit it with and would happily use it in another project. So a month or two ago I frogged it, and it felt good. I’m not sure yet what this yarn will become, but it’ll be ready for me when I’ve made up my mind.

Other pieces I have plans for:

  • This simple gathered skirt sewn back in 2015. I’ll go more into detail after I’ve sewn a new skirt from this fabric, but suffice it to say that it turned out this skirt didn’t work as-is, and I deconstructed it this weekend in preparation for sewing it up into something that I hope will work much better. This plan was largely inspired by my success with the Fiore skirt.
  • My Circlet Shrug, knit in 2017. This plan is also already in progress, and luckily it doesn’t involve any frogging, but just a simple addition to the garment: sleeves! My Circlet Shrug is becoming a Circlet Cardigan. I’m very excited about this transformation and hope to share the finished modifications soon!
  • I’m also tentatively considering adding some length to the sleeves of my Lapwing pullover (again, an FO I never blogged about once finished, but that I did post on Instagram). This is lower on my priority list and it also wouldn’t be particularly fun – it would involve unpicking sleeve seams and pulling out a bind off in Hillesvåg Sølje, not the easiest yarn for that kind of task. I do wear my Lapwing, but I think I’d wear it more if the tightest part of the sleeve sat lower on my forearm for a more comfortable fit, and I do have enough yarn to make this modification. So we shall see.

I do think one thing that comes along with making our own clothes is continuously learning about what does and doesn’t work for us – and the wonderful thing is that as makers, we can so often tweak pieces we already own to make them work better, or even re-use the materials for a larger transformation. Have you ever frogged a sweater you knit or crocheted, or re-worked a piece you sewed? I’d be curious to hear how it worked for you!

FO: fiore skirt

I mentioned back in my post sewing in april that I had plans to make a Fiore Skirt by Closet Core Patterns, and I actually did make one not long after that! Initially I wanted to finish it for syttende mai (May 17th, Norway’s national holiday) even though we weren’t going anywhere or doing anything for the holiday this year, but I didn’t quite make that self-imposed deadline. Nonetheless I finished it up shortly after that, and have been meaning to blog about it ever since!

I learned a lot making this skirt, which was part of the point of making it. It’s one of the patterns included with the Closet Core online sewing course I did as well, so there were videos as part of the course that walked me through some of the more challenging parts. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve sewn a proper button placket, and I’m very pleased with how that turned out. I used a lightweight cotton lawn I fell in love with (Lady McElroy Evening Roost in teal), and because of the pattern on the fabric, I affectionately refer to this as my Bird Skirt.

The Fiore pattern has three views: a version with a zip in the back, a wrap skirt version, and a version with a front button placket. There are also two lengths. I obviously made the version with the button placket, and I made a couple of modifications:

  • while I used the long version of the pattern pieces, I added around three inches of length to the skirt to get the length I knew I wanted (I’m 6′ / 182 cm tall, so the pattern’s “below knee” designation wasn’t going to hit me below the knee without modifying).
  • I did away with the patch pockets (since those aren’t my fave) and added side pockets instead. I used the pattern pieces from the Chardon skirt from Deer & Doe for the pockets since I’ve made that skirt before and had the pieces on hand.
  • I did away with the seam at the back. All three views use the same pattern piece for the back; you cut two of the back piece and then sew them together. This makes perfect sense for the version with the zip, but for the other two views, I don’t really see why the seam is necessary. I didn’t want to cut up the pattern of my fabric, either, so I cut that piece on the fold instead.

This is easily the most lightweight skirt I own, which makes it a great option for the summer heat (although with a slip I can also wear it with tights for cooler days). I paired it with a knitted tank several times this summer, particularly in June when we had our hottest weather. It was a joy to discover that I loved this combination so much, because I’ve been trying to incorporate a wider variety of colors in my wardrobe for a couple of years. This deep mustardy yellow-orange color pairs very well with blues and teals, which I love and wear a lot of, so I’m definitely going to try to incorporate more of it into my clothing. The tank was made with Rauma Petunia, a DK weight cotton yarn, in a limited edition color called villhonning (“wild honey”). I used Jessie Maed’s Framework Bralette as the starting point but made a lot of modifications to turn it into a simple stockinette tank.

I liked making the Fiore skirt a lot, and I would definitely use the pattern again. I might go down a size if I do – the waistband feels ever so slightly large on me in this size. Another option would be to add a bit of elastic to the back of the waistband, which is a modification I’ve seen for this pattern. I will note that size-wise, it goes up to a 39″ waist, but no further.

I haven’t managed any other sewing this year since finishing this skirt (aside from hemming some curtains), and I’d like to change that. We’ve been working on house projects on the weekend a lot, however, so fitting in sewing time has somehow felt challenging. I’ve definitely spent more time knitting than sewing – and some of that has been for new patterns, so I’ll be able to share those in the coming months. I’m not sure yet what my next sewing project will be, but the most likely candidates seem like an Emery dress or a knit top of some kind. I have fabric for both, but I haven’t been able to make up my mind about a pattern for the knit fabric. Do you have any favorite sewing patterns for tops with a jersey knit?